Friday, June 27, 2014

Illinois Summer

This week, Sophia and I took advantage of our free time and visited my mom's family in Illinois. Well, a few parts of the family anyway.

I'm so grateful that my mom's parents are still around so we can continue making memories with them. These are the ones that Sophia will look back on for the rest of her life. I remember rolling a ball back and forth on the floor with my mom's grandpa. So imagine how vivid the memory will be for Sophia of taking a ride on the farm Mule/4-wheeler thing will be! Grandpa took us out to the pasture to get all the cows moving around. That, of course, was not nearly enough, so he took us up the road and around the corner to where the creek crosses so we could ride through. It was about the mildest ride Grandpa's ever taken me on, but it was just right for Sophia's first ride with him. She would have gotten out and walked back if he got to take us down the hills in their pastures up north.


Sophia is a dog person, and there were a couple of opportunities to love on some canines during our family visits. I was happy that we got to visit with Carrie and Ben. Sophia was happy to see Bobby. She even cried when we left him.


On the way home we stopped at the Lincoln Presidential Museum. It was quite impressive. And apparently too intense in spots. Not, as you would guess, around the Civil War parts. It was more just the weird wax representations of Lincoln and other figures that freaked Sophia out. Note to self: no wax museum trips in the near future.

It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of our summer days. I love Illinois, and I do miss it sometimes, especially at this time of year. The skies are so blue when they're pressed so close to the chest-high, tassel-less, green corn. Nothing like it. All those farm houses stand out so cleanly and beautifully right now. In a couple months, all you'll see are the tassels waving. That's another kind of pretty but not nearly as breathtaking.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Circus Time!

Yesterday, Sophia and I made our first trip to Circus Flora, a St. Louis tradition for 28 years. I don't plan on missing another year of this incredible circus.

Even though it was a terribly hot day, the performers worked so hard to transport us to another imaginative dimension. Obviously from this picture, you can see that Sophia was also entranced by the circus. I loved seeing the look of wonder on Sophia's face.


The Wallendas have been a family of circus performers since the 18th century!! Now there are several branches of the family performing in the United States and around the world. One of them performs in St. Louis every year with Circus Flora. And they were so fun to watch! 

Yesterday afternoon was the first time that Circus Flora had a "sensory-friendly" performance. As we walked in, they gave us an informational sheet to give people in attendance a good idea of what to expect in the way of noise, lights and action. Sophia had always been nervous about going to the circus before because of the noise and intensity. Once I told her this performance would be safe for her, she was excited to give it a try. Next year, we may be able to try the full experience. I don't think it will be much different, but the volume, at the least, will be louder.

The circus included horses, camels, dogs, a clown not dressed as a clown and so many acrobats and physical performers! It was an amazing afternoon for me and Sophia. We both had lots of stories to tell. Can't wait to see what next year's Circus Flora will bring.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Violinist

Sophia says that she is going to blog about her recital, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Swimming, knitting and playing seem to be taking the top spots in her brain right now, which is only fitting for summer. Except for the knitting one. That one escapes me.

Since she's not posting about it, I'm going to tell you my perspective on her debut as a violinist.

Background: She refused to perform in the fall recital, as she had only been playing for a month. She was too anxious to get up there and perform "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which is what she was working on at the time. I told her that she could not quit violin until she had performed in a recital. My reasoning was that I was pretty sure she'd quit just so she didn't have to ever perform. She's an enigma, this one. She says that she wants to be a performer when she grows up. She loves to regale strangers and friends with tales of her exploits. Yet the idea of performing in front of an audience was causing her extreme distress.

She chose her recital song, "Allegro," a month before the show. She chose it because she had already mastered it. However, as soon as she declared it as her recital piece, her grip on the song loosened. Every time she tried to play it, the notes came out too quickly, too slowly or generally unpleasantly. I wasn't worried. I just figured if she performed and got a good response from her family, then all would be fine.

The day of the recital, she appeared as a vision in white. Just elegant and sweet. When it was her turn, she strode to the front, placed her bow on her violin and played the song more beautifully than I knew it was possible for a 7-year-old to play "Allegro." Honestly, while I videoed it, I held my breath just waiting for the rogue sour note to derail her. It never came. She was amazing.

I was so proud of her. Not for playing perfectly. I was proud of her bravery and her poise. She's amazing. Her ability to perform under pressure just made me realize again the strength of her determination. She has a very strong will. I can't wait to see where the path that it clears takes her.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy Anniversary!!

And thanks for a bajillion happy moments in the last twelve years.